18Birdies Handicap Index: How it Works

In This Article

What is the 18Birdies Handicap Index, and why do I need it?
How do I get my 18Birdies Handicap Index?
How is My 18Birdies Handicap Index Calculated?
The Formula
Remove a round from your handicap calculation
Round status - Not Eligible, Not Included, Replaced: what do they mean?

The 18Birdies Handicap Index helps level the playing field when you play with golfers of all skill levels.

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What is the 18Birdies Handicap Index, and why do I need it?

Let's say you're at the point where you're trying to break 100 on 18 holes. After entering a couple of scores into 18Birdies you might get an 18Birdies Handicap Index of around 30. 

If you play with a friend who has been playing golf for years and tends to shoot lower scores of around 80 (they might be around a 7 18Birdies Handicap Index) then when the two of you play together you will have a way to compete by playing net scoring games. 

Net scoring means if you played 18 holes and shot 102 with an 18Birdies Handicap Index of 30, depending on how hard the golf course is, your net score should come out to close to 72 (by decreasing your total score of 102 - 30 = 72). Your friend would be given close to 7 strokes off their total score to equal their net score.  

This way everyone in your foursome can compete – and bet – against each other in a fair manner completely based on their individual skill level.

In other words, the 18Birdies Handicap Index is the great equalizer to playing and competing against friends of all skill levels. And when you enter more scores into 18Birdies you can see how your skill is improving by seeing how your 18Birdies Handicap Index drops.  

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How do I get my 18Birdies Handicap Index?

With the 18Birdies App, all you need to calculate an 18Birdies Handicap Index is just one 9-hole or 18-hole round of golf. There’s no wait time, your handicap will be calculated automatically after your round. It will also show up in the Stats tab.

Each time you play another 9 or 18 holes of golf, enter your score into the App, and your 18Birdies Handicap Index will be updated.  The more rounds you play, the more precise your 18Birdies Handicap Index will become.  

Once you have entered at least 20 rounds of golf with 9 or 18 holes per round, only your most recent 20 rounds will be used to calculate your current 18Birdies Handicap Index. 

That’s it, simple as that!

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How is my 18Birdies Handicap Index calculated?

Your 18Birdies Handicap Index is calculated by using well-known, public information regarding the difficulty of different golf courses throughout the world. 

Our calculation of your 18Birdies Handicap Index uses your score from 9 or 18 holes on a golf course, the Course Rating™ for the tees at the course you’ve played, and Slope Rating®  for the tees at the course you’ve played. 

These ratings are often included on your scorecard or on a golf course’s website and our App also contains a database of such information. 

The 18Birdies App will calculate your 18Birdies Handicap Index using the following formula

Step 1:  18Birdies Handicap Index = (Score - Course Rating™ x (113/SLOPE®)

Step 2: Calculation of your average best Step 1 scores using the formula set out in the below table:

18Birdies Handicap Index Calculation
Rounds Played # Best Rounds Used
1 - 5 1
6 - 8 2
9 - 11 3
12 - 14 4
15 - 16 5
17 - 18 6
19 7
20 8

Let’s say you play 2 rounds of Golf at Pebble Beach on Monday and Tuesday, a round at Spanish Bay on Wednesday, then head over to Spyglass Hill on Thursday to play 36 holes, and you finish off this once in a lifetime week of golf at Poppy Hills for 18 holes.

Your Step 1 scores for these rounds would be as follows:

Pebble Beach score of 78:   
(78 - 75.5) X (113 / 145) = 1.95

Pebble Beach score of 82:
(82 - 75.5) X (113 / 145) = 5.07

Spanish Bay score of 76:
(76 - 74.0) X (113 / 140) = 1.61

Spyglass Hill score of 80:
(80 - 75.5) X (113 / 144) = 3.53

Spyglass Hill score of 77:
(77 - 75.5) X (113 / 144) = 1.18

Poppy Hills score of 79:
(79 - 74.4) X (113 / 144) = 3.61

Step 2: Referring to the chart above, we would take the lowest Step 1 scores from only two rounds (Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill) and average them together like so:  

(1.18 + 1.61) / 2 = 1.4

Your 18Birdies Handicap Index would be 1.4 with the 6 rounds entered. You might be headed to the tour here soon if you keep using the 18Birdies App.  Nice work!

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How to remove a round score from your 18Birdies Handicap calculation

  1. Open the app and tap Me on the bottom menu.
  2. Tap Rounds (directly below your profile picture)
  3. Scroll down and find the round.
  4. Tap the blue bubble below the date 'Handicap: Included'
  5. Tap the toggle button to remove this round from your handicap calculation.


How many rounds do I need to get a handicap?

You can get an 18Birdies handicap after a single round. While this may not be an accurate indicator of your golfing abilities, you will have a handicap to share with your golf partners.

Why did my handicap go up or down after my latest round?

Your handicap can go up or down after entering a score from 9 or 18 holes based on the 18Birdies Handicap calculation. If you have input 20 or more eligible rounds in the 18Birdies App, each new input 9 or 18 holes will push out the previous 20th round.  

Your 18Birdies Handicap will always be updated based upon your most recent rounds played, up to a maximum of 20.  If the most recently expunged round was higher or lower than the most recent round input in the App, then your 18Birdies Handicap would go down or up, as the case the may be.

This means that even though you may have logged a higher or lower score than usual, your handicap may not move in the direction you thought it would.  You’ll find that your 18Birdies Handicap is closely associated with your potential, and mainly consists of your lower scores, it isn’t necessarily a representation of your average scores.  

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How many rounds should I enter before my handicap starts to become precise?

Your 18Birdies Handicap will use your latest 20 eligible rounds, and of those 20 rounds will use the lowest 8 rounds towards the calculation.  We suggest entering at least 10 of your latest rounds to start to see a more precise representation of your 18Birdies Handicap.

What if I play only 9 holes? Will the App use my 9-hole scores to calculate my handicap?

Yes.  In contrast to some other handicap products on the market, the 18Birdies App will calculate a handicap based on a 9-hole round by doubling the 9-hole round score to determine an 18-hole score that will count towards your handicap.

Every time you enter a score for a 9-hole or 18-hole round of golf into 18Birdies, you will get an automatic update to your handicap.

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What if I play other than 9 or 18 holes?

For rounds where you play more than 9 holes but less than 18 holes, we’ll only use just the side with the full 9 holes as the score for that round. But if you start on the 2nd hole and play through the 10th hole this won’t be included as a 9 hole round counted towards your handicap. 

Also if you play less than 9 holes, the round won't be eligible to be used towards your handicap calculation.

Do I have to record every round I play towards my 18Birdies Handicap?

It’s entirely up to you to determine what rounds you want to include or exclude towards your handicap. Although ideally to get the most accurate representation of your game you would want to enter all scores you've played recently and those you play going forward.

Can I exclude a round from counting towards my 18Birdies Handicap?

Yes.  It’s easy to exclude a round from your handicap calculation. When clicking into a round, you will be able to see if the round is included or excluded from the rounds used towards your handicap. 

If you have a round you wish to exclude from counting towards your handicap, we have given you the ability to exclude any round from your round history.  We suggest excluding rounds played in a scramble format, best ball, and for any other uniquely scored/played rounds to make sure your handicap is as accurate as possible. 

Are rounds from Par 3 courses included?

No.  When entering scores from Par 3 courses / executive courses, or any course with an 18-hole par of less than 60, these scores will not be counted towards your handicap. 

If you play an individual 9 hole round with par of 29 or less (that isn’t part of a full 18-hole round with par of 60 or higher), that 9 hole round won’t be included in your handicap calculation.

Is there a maximum 18Birdies Handicap? Minimum?

There is no maximum 18Birdies Handicap.  There is also no set minimum handicap, it is 100% based on the scores you enter so it can be as high or low as your scores determine.

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Am I able to get a handicap if I live outside the United States? 

Yes, although depending on where you live, some international courses may not be eligible to count towards your handicap.

Can I enter a score from my old scorecards to get a handicap?

Yes! Absolutely. You can enter past scores in the Stats tab and they will count towards your 18Birdies Handicap as long as it falls within the latest 20 eligible rounds sorted by date.

If you have over 20 rounds in 18Birdies and enter a round from 5 years ago it probably won't be included towards your latest 20 eligible rounds.  

How is the 18Birdies Handicap different from the World Handicap & USGA Handicap?

The 18Birdies Handicap uses similar inputs to a USGA®  handicap in that both rely upon use of the Course Rating™ and Slope Rating® for a given golf course.  The handicaps differ as follows:

18Birdies USGA®
Will calculate a handicap for as few as 1 - 5 rounds of golf played. Will only calculate a handicap when at least 5 rounds have been played.
No maximum handicap. Maximum handicap of 54
No adjustment to your handicap for unusually bad scores on a hole or bad weather. Accounts for unusually bad holes or bad weather with Equitable Stroke Control™
No multiplication adjustment for your handicap. Multiplies your [scores??] by 0.96 to determine your handicap.
Will use a score from 9 holes to calculate your handicap (scored multiplied by 2) Combines 9 holes from different courses or different rounds to get one 18-hole score.

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Round Status: Included, Not Included, Not EligibleReplaced: What do they mean?

All rounds aren't able to be included towards your 18Birdies Handicap. Here's a breakdown of why rounds would or wouldn't be included towards the handicap calculation.

Included in Handicap means this round is one of the most recent 20 rounds that are eligible to be used in the handicap calculation.  Consists of either 9 holes or 18 holes at a course with par 60 or higher for 18 holes or 30 or higher for 9 holes. You don't need to enter hole by hole scores, but rather a total 9 hole or total 18 hole score will work fine.  

Not included means this round was eligible to be included in the handicap calculation but you opted out of including it towards the calculation. You can include the round again if you like.  

Not Eligible means that this round either wasn't a 9 hole scored round, 18 hole scored round, or it was par 60 or lower on 18 holes and par 29 or lower on 9 holes.  You also may have entered hole by hole scores but didn't finish the entire 9 or entire 18 holes. 

If you scored less than 9 holes the round will not be eligible, and if you score more than 9 holes but less than 18 holes only the front 9 will be eligible.  The back 9 scores would not count if they are not finished.  If you played holes 2 through 10, this also won't be eligible as it needs to be a complete 9 hole side holes 1 - 9 or holes 10 - 18. 

A round is also not eligible if there isn't a Course Rating™ and SLOPE® setup for the course. If you have Course Rating™ and SLOPE® information for a course that is not available in 18Birdies, please reach out to our support team with an image of the course's scorecard and we will update the course information for you.  

Replaced means your round was eligible but no longer falls within the 20 most recent eligible rounds used in the 18Birdies Handicap calculation. Rounds are included by those most recently entered by date. 

Can I exclude rounds from the 18Birdies Handicap calculation?

Yes.  You decide which rounds to input into the App and you can even exclude a round from counting towards your handicap calculation after you’ve entered it.  

What if I don’t want to use the 18Birdies Handicap and prefer to use a manually entered handicap that would be applied throughout the App?

You can choose to opt-into using a separate handicap that is different from the 18Birdies Handicap by visiting the Stats page, clicking on the 18Birdies Handicap box and add or edit your handicap to be whatever number you choose.  

We’ll still calculate your 18Birdies Handicap after each round you enter, but we’ll use the manually entered handicap you provided for group scoring, net scores, stats, and it will be shown on your profile.

Does the Handicap update with GHIN automatically?

No, the 18Birdies Handicap does not update or link with GHIN.

Is this used differently than WHS or USGA for tournaments?

The 18Birdies Handicap can be used similarly to any handicapping system for use in tournaments, but the 18Birdies handicap is not accepted for USGA-sanctioned tournaments or World Handicap-sanctioned tournaments.

Can I use this handicap in official USGA sanctioned tournaments?

No.  An 18Birdies handicap is not accepted at USGA®  or NCGA™-sanctioned tournaments. 

Can I use my 18Birdies Handicap in a United States Golf Association® sanctioned event? 

The 18Birdies Handicap is not a usable handicap in a USGA® sanctioned event.

TRADEMARKS:  The terms Course Rating™, SLOPE®, and USGA® are trademarks and service marks of the United States Golf Association (USGA). The use of such terms herein does not imply any endorsement of 18Birdies by the USGA or a relationship between 18Birdies and the USGA. 

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